I've spoken to a few newbies who are just getting started with painting
and I do appreciate it can be scary as everything feels new and uncertain.
Consider yourself cyberspace hugged! Here is some mentoring from me that will definitely help you.
HOW MUCH GLOSS MEDIUM SHOULD I USE?
A common question is how much paint and how much gloss medium to use. In the following
I will answer these commonly asked questions.
WHY WE USE GLOSS MEDIUM
The reason we use acrylic gloss medium with the acrylic paint is to maintain
a good consistency to the paint when we apply it. I like Liquitex Gloss Medium and I also like Global Gloss medium. I am looking for the consistency of runny cream. I don;t like my medium to be more like the consistency of milk as I find it will run through the colours on my plate and make a mess if too runny.
WHAT HAPPENS IF WE JUST USE WATER?
If we use just water, the paint can
become thin and runny, and diluted in strength, therefore less impactful.What we are doing by adding water to the paint is to break
down the commercial preparation of the pigment suspended in binder medium.
It will no longer behave in a predictable fashion.
HOW TO ACHIEVE THE RIGHT BALANCE OF MOISTURE WITH YOUR PAINT
However if you dampen your brush with water (wipe excess water on paper towel), and pick up a little of the medium on the brush and some paint, then this helps maintain the stability of the paint.
You will have more control over what the paint does as the paint will flow better with the addition of a little gloss medium.
SO WHAT IS THE CORRECT RATIO OF GLOSS MEDIUM TO USE?
This varies a lot. If you are trying to cover your canvas with your first pass of colour then you will have more paint than medium as you are wanting to impact the canvas with colour. Too much gloss medium will thin the paint pigment out and you won't achieve the impact of colour you want. The paint could become transparent in areas with too much gloss medium with the paint.
However once you have your first pass of colour on the canvas you may only want to tweak the colour in which case it can be preferable to use more gloss medium and less paint as you may only want to make subtle changes.
So in the early stages the correct ratio is enough gloss medium to help you get the paint to flow but without diluting the strength of the paint.
In the later stages of your painting the correct ration is to use enough gloss medium to be able to control the paint to get it to do what you need it to at that point in time.
Think of yourself as the conductor. You must decide how much paint goes on where and how much gloss medium you will need to help you to do that.
THE ONLY WAY TO KNOW IS TO PRACTICE
This can take practice to get the feel of what the right balance is for each stage of the painting.
The only way to get better at it is to give it a go and see what happens. This way you will get a feel for the paint and the gloss medium and gain experience of how they each behave.
MISTAKES HELP US LEARN
Mistakes are fine because you can always correct them if you don't like your effort. This is how you learn.
No one is going to be perfect straight up. :Learn to love your mistakes as they show us where we need to improve and get better. Adjust till it works for you. Soon it will become something you don't have to think about.
TOO THIN PAINT
If the paint is not covering the canvas enough and looks too thin, then increase the amount of paint and lessen the amount of water and gloss medium. I often see students who have done water colour painting being very meagre with their use of paint. With watercolour, it's a little bit of pigment and lots of water. With acrylic paints we are bolder and it is about using more paint and less moisture in comparison to water colours.
I like to remind the water colourists they have paid for a workshop and there is plenty of paint! Please feel free to use some!
If the paint is too runny, then lessen the amount of water.
If the paint is too gluggy, you probably have too much paint on the brush. .
If the paint is more than two thirds up the brush hairs then you probably have too much on the brush to be able to paint with control.After painting for 25 years or more I find I automatically pick up as much paint as what I need for an area. I unconsciously have a feel for what is needed. This is what will happen with you as well with practice. You will get the feel for how much paint to pick up. It will become second nature to you.
Wipe off the excess paint onto paper towel. Pick some medium with your paint, to improve the flow, and off you go again!
LESS IS MORE
Generally my advice to students in my workshops seems to be that they have too much paint on the brush. They also tell me that I pick up less paint on the brush than they do. They notice that I don't even wash the brush in between going back for different colours most of the time as I have deposited the paint on the canvas and am not left with excess.
Painting with less paint rather than excessive amounts gives you more control. We want the paint to be juicy and rich, but not mixed in batches and spread like clag all the way up the bristles to the ferrule ( the metal part that binds the bristles).
TOO DRY PAINT
If you are getting a sandpaper effect with your paint on the canvas then you need more moisture with your paint. I see this problem a lot in my live classes. I feel I'm in the Sahara Desert ( which I visited recently!) when I see how dry the student's brush and palette is. The solution is to dip your brush in the water, wipe off the excess water (but do not dry it), then pick some medium to use with the paint. When you apply the paint, the brush and paint should then flow nicely.
Dry paint application is called scumbling and is a legitimate technique. In our instance, we are after smooth flowing paint to describe form.
Dry paint application does not look luscious for our purposes. Get some moisture happening. It's easily fixed!
YOUR CANVAS IS THIRSTY
Commercially prepared canvases have a commercially applied gesso on the canvas that seals the fibres creating a nice painting surface. This surface is chalky and sucks up the moisture and paint very quickly so you do need to keep your brush moist and remember to add the gloss medium to keep the paint gliding across the canvas when you apply it. If you don't use enough moisture the results will look rough and scritchy scratchy too.
DO I MIX THE PAINT ON THE PALETTE OR THE CANVAS?
Love this question.
What I do not want to see is students methodically mixing pudding style batches of paint on the palette.
I get that this feels industrious to be doing. (It's also a form of procrastination!)
But it's also totally insensitive to your painting. We are not painting walls here. We are creating paintings and responding to changing conditions of colour all over our canvas.
The action for mixing the colour needs to be mostly on the canvas. No good if the work of art is on the palette.
I much prefer you take a little bit of paint from the side of your colour on your palette and mix a little with another colour, without disturbing the whole amount of the paint colour on the palette, then take it to your canvas, apply it and see if it is what you had in mind.
(You can see from the above that I have been careful not to pollute all of the paint that has come straight from the tube. I take what I need from the side, get an idea of how the colour mix will go then launch forth and apply it on the canvas, finishing my mixing there.)
If it needs to go darker, pick up a little of the colour you think will help it to adjust and make the adjustment on the canvas. If it needs to go lighter or warmer, add a little of that colour you think it needs onto the canvas and blend.
I like to get an approximation of the colour I am after on the palette but do most of my mixing on the canvas.
As you can see I am using a disposable plastic oval plate most people use for a barbecue! What I love about them is they can be thrown out after use. The white background helps me to see the paint colour clearly. I can even mix my colour and put a daub on the edge of the plate to check it against the photo for a colour match.
COLOUR HARMONY CHARTS
It's a good idea to practise mixing the colours you think you will need before you go to the canvas to paint.
For this reason, it's handy to keep a colour notebook. For each painting, have a page where you practise mixing the colours and matching them to your photo reference. List the colours you used and which ones you used to make the colours that you are happy with.
With every painting you do you will have your colour notes.
This helps you to build your relationship to colour.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FACING OFF YOUR FEAR
Fear is imaginary demons and doomsdayers in your head. They do not exist in real life. But if you listen to them they can stop you from engaging with the exciting experience of painting and enjoying colour and form.
The only thing to do is actually pick up the paint brush and give it a go. That way you will bust past those voices keeping you small. I know you can do it. Go on! Give it a go! Who knows what will happen? But at least you won't be wondering. And as I said, mistakes are fine. You are going to make them. And you are going to get past them. It's part of learning. And it would be strange if you didn't! I'm right behind you! Take the plunge!
Love and paint brushes, and a little gloss medium with your paint please!
Salon Rouge Gallery
19 Carrington Street
COPYRIGHT March 2014